If you click on any news site or turn on the television, the world’s problems can seem overwhelming. Sometimes, especially when it comes to matters of the economy, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the exact nature of the problem. Given these complex, opaque, and frustrating issues, it’s often hard to know how one person can make a difference.
But you can. And the way to do this is not to try and solve global problems, but to invest in your local economy. Investing in your community can be achieved through volunteering with local non-profits, getting involved in your local government, or even just showing up to community events.
Doing any of these produces positive results not only for you, but your neighbors. Not sold yet?
Here are four reasons it pays to give back to your community.
1.This is where you live!
Throwing yourself into the local matters and concerns involves an intimate association with the issues and individuals. It’s a very personal investment, and you’ll be tied much closer to the outcome. It’s hard to have this connection when dealing with larger scale issues. It’s also more satisfying to directly see the fruits of your labor and how the relationships you formed brought about the needed results.
2. Enliven your community
Investing in local companies, or just choosing where to spend your dollars, is part of a much larger process that goes beyond just supporting local businesses. It means you’re participating in building a unique, distinct culture. One that looks different from those all-too-familiar cookie-cutter streets and neighborhoods. In turn, this attracts more talent and people, and makes your community a more vibrant place to live.
3. Pride and home value
Creating a vibrant community and supporting a strong local economy that attracts families and creative young people is a huge source of pride for residents. And, if you’re a homeowner, it may also up the value of your property!
A strong streak of independence runs deep in many Americans’ veins. There’s something comforting about knowing who owns the local store or bank, or who designed the new baseball diamond. This is a reason so many choose to do business with a credit union or local bank. These institutions exist to serve their members and the interests of their community — a far cry from the vast, impersonal structure of the international banks.
So tonight, instead of binge watching your favorite new Netflix show, take a step outside and immerse yourself in your community. Look in the local paper for upcoming community events, check out City Hall's website for town hall meetings, or search for non-profits that align with your values. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the difference you can make, and the rewards that come with it.